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TripAdvisor’s Digital Marketing Journey To Reach 375M Unique Monthly Visitors

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About TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor® is the world’s largest travel site, enabling travelers to plan and book the perfect trip. TripAdvisor offers advice from millions of travelers and a wide variety of travel choices and planning features with seamless links to booking tools that check hundreds of websites to find the best hotel prices. TripAdvisor branded sites make up the largest travel community in the world, reaching 375 million unique monthly visitors, and more than 250 million reviews and opinions covering more than 5.2 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions. The sites operate in 45 countries worldwide. TripAdvisor also includes TripAdvisor for Business, a dedicated division that provides the tourism industry access to millions of monthly TripAdvisor visitors.

TripAdvisor’s Business Objectives

TripAdvisor’s business objectives are along the following key areas.

  • Sustaining and Increasing the unique monthly visitors to their website
  • Increasing the number of reviews submitted by users

Approach / Strategy adopted by TripAdvisor

Search Engine Optimization and Marketing (SEO and SEM)

A simple search on Google, “stay in Dubai” clearly has TripAdvisor featured as the top most page from SEO perspective. Ads by TripAdvisor also feature at the top of Google search results, demonstrating their SEM implementation.

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Clarity of purpose and Personalization

Once a brand has managed to grab eyeballs of a potential customer, the next challenging phase of the journey is to ask the key question : “What is that one thing you would like your site visitors to do?” TripAdvisor’s landing page content clearly shouts out “that call to action” in a clear, concise and visually appealing way. Users can simply mention the Check in and Check out dates and thereby access best prices and deals during that period. The page also gives a simple search option to prompt users to mention what they are looking for (hotels, things to do etc)

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The next stage of the customer journey is fully engaging with customers. As a brand you need to create interesting, relevant and visual content that will impress your audience.

A whopping 83% of leisure travelers plan their trip online and research shows that travel consumers visit an average of 22+ websites over multiple research sessions prior to making a final booking. In terms of which websites these online shoppers are visiting to conduct their research, Online Travel aggregator (OTA) sites are a more popular option than a brand’s own website.

Providing a more personalized experience based on users’ profiles, online behavior and search patterns is something travel businesses cannot ignore.

TripAdvisor’s home page enables filtering options that are highly engaging and caters to a wide range of user demographics. Users can chose accommodations based on Star ratings, Style, Brand, Location and Amenities.

Strong Partnerships/Affiliates

TripAdvisor also manages and operates websites under 24 other travel media brands: AirfareWatchdog, BookingBuddy, CruiseCritic, EveryTrail, Family Vacation Critic, FlipKey, The Fork (including lafourchette, eltenedor, IENS, BestTables and Dimmi), GateGuru, Holiday Lettings, Holiday Watchdog, Independent Traveler, Jetsetter, Niumba, Onetime, Oyster, SeatGuru, SmarterTravel, Tingo, Travel Pod, Tripbod, VacationHomeRentals, Viator, VirtualTourist, Kuxun.

TripAdvisor through their Partnership Group have 100 contracted content partners – including jetBlue, Walt Disney World, Westin Hotels and Resorts, Visit London, Hertz, and AOL Travel – and over 14,000 unique websites have added a TripAdvisor self-service widget or badge.

For example, Customers can accrue 50 JP Miles, while initiating a hotel room booking in Dubai.

Also with the price war intensifying between all the Online Travel Aggregators (OTAs), TripAdvisor prompts their potential customers to compare prices with other competitor sites like Bookings.com, makemytrip.com etc thereby showcasing their cost leadership .

JPmiles

Persuasion through ‘Social” proofing

Apart from Pricing, another key differentiator for OTAs like TripAdvisor is “Persuasion”. And what better way to persuade a potential customer, than through his/her social network !

TripAdvisor achieved “social proofing” through 2 different approaches – a) Integration with Facebook b) Building credibility through external review sources and traveler pictures .

a) Social Media Marketing / Integration with Facebook

Once a person logs into TripAdvisor using Facebook, they experience a unique, personalized view of a destination with friends’ ratings, check-ins, likes, reviews, and more—what the company calls the wisdom of friends. In fact, Facebook users contribute 2 times the amount of content than those not connected to Facebook.

With the TripAdvisor app on Facebook, travelers create a travel map, rate attractions, earn badges and can compare—even compete—with individual friends on Facebook to see who has visited more cities and countries. All of these actions produce stories in peoples’ News Feed, which can be promoted to increase reach and exposure.

TripAdvisor has multiple ways to maximize Facebook integration, a strategy that has yielded strong results: Facebook users, for instance, have 27% higher engagement on TripAdvisor. And users signing in with Facebook Login contribute more than 1 in 3 new reviews on TripAdvisor

The organic sharing tools available with Open Graph helped TripAdvisor attract new visitors. When TripAdvisor acquires a new user from Facebook, Open Graph becomes a channel by which it can then reach an exponentially larger audience – that user’s friends.

Also a simple search for Hotels in Dubai in the TripAdvisor landing page, creates an ad on the user’s Facebook News feed, thereby ensuring user recall.

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Results due to Facebook Integration
  • 1 billion Open Graph actions posted
  • 39 million monthly active Facebook visitors to its Facebook app
  • More than doubled new users acquired through Facebook in 2012, helping to grow marketable members nearly 100% year-over-year to 44 million.
  • More than 1/3 of new TripAdvisor reviews are written by people who sign on using Facebook Login
  • Since relaunching the TripAdvisor canvas app with Open Graph, monthly active users increased 10X through the combination of activities including News Feed, timeline, and an advertising campaign
  • Facebook connected users are: ** 27% more engaged ** Contribute 2x more content ** Generate more revenue
b) External User reviews:

One of the most popular social proofing features in TripAdvisor is the External user reviews and the way it was implemented. TripAdvisor reviewers are incentivized for their reviews with badges/rankings. For potential customers, reading reviews by reviewers with a good standing, builds credibility for the property they are exploring. Also unique features such as “Most rated Amenity” as well as “Overall Score” for all properties, help travelers choose their perfect accommodation.

Traveller_reviews

Results achieved by TripAdvisor

Based on all the above (and more), carefully implemented Digital Marketing and Content Management strategies, TripAdvisor has achieved the status of the world’s largest travel site (Source: comScore Media Metrix for TripAdvisor Sites, worldwide, December 2014)

Here are some key overall Facts that substantiate TripAdvisor’s successful implementation of Digital Marketing

TripAdvisor branded sites make up the largest travel community in the world, reaching 375 million unique monthly visitors, and more than 250 million reviews and opinions covering more than 5.2 million accommodations, restaurants, and attractions. Source: TripAdvisor log files, average monthly unique users, Q2 2015

TripAdvisor Content:

More than 250 million reviews and opinions from travelers around the world.

More than 5.2 million businesses and properties in 123,000+ destinations, including:

950,000+ hotels, B&Bs, and specialty lodging

720,000+ vacation rentals

3 million restaurants

560,000+ attractions

More than 38 million candid traveler photos.

More than 160 new contributions are posted every minute.

More than 84 million emailable members worldwide.

On average, nearly 2,600 new topics are posted every day to the TripAdvisor forums.

More than 85 percent of questions posted to TripAdvisor’s English-speaking forums are replied to by other travelers within 24 hours.

TripAdvisor Mobile:

215 million mobile app downloads, including 195 million downloads of the core TripAdvisor app.

TripAdvisor is constantly pushing the limits of mobile innovation to help travelers plan and have the perfect trip with features such as its “Near Me Now,” “Offline Feature,” and neighborhoods offerings:

Near Me Now Find nearby restaurants, attractions and hotels on the go.

Offline Feature Allows travelers to download TripAdvisor reviews, photos and city maps before they go and then access this information on their trip when no data connection is available, helping them avoid costly roaming charges.

Neighborhoods  Allows TripAdvisor users to discover and explore neighborhoods within popular tourist destinations around the world, making it easier to find restaurants, attractions and accommodations that are perfect for their trip. The feature offers curated content including neighborhood descriptions, photos and maps, along with traveler reviews and opinions on the top places to eat, play and stay within these sections of the city.

Learnings

Trip Advisor as a website/service, is clearly more holistic covering Flight bookings, Home stay bookings etc. thereby spanning across value proposition of competitors like Expedia and Makemytrip on one side as well as accommodation specific services like Airbnb, Bookings.com on the other side.  However with the large number of players entering the travel space, TripAdvisor would need to continue innovating, to stay on top of the game.

One of its top competitors, Bookings.Com continues to build effective practices to improve User engagement. For example, Bookings.com has a unique feature wherein, search results pages display what volume of rooms have already been reserved in this location on your chosen dates, thereby building a “sense of urgency” amongst users. Showcasing usage-insights around our service or website to act as a form of social proof or show scarcity, is definitely a compelling selling strategy, that TripAdvisor can consider.

Bookings_com

Bookings.com is also cashing into their Google search partnership, wherein not many OTAs are displayed currently, apart from Bookings.com

Bookings_2

Conclusion

TripAdvisor has been integral in transforming the industry and has subsequently raised considerable challenges for hoteliers and restaurant owners around the world. The site is a fantastic representation of the opportunities that digital marketing can create and TripAdvisor has clearly led the way in providing a platform for E-WOM (Electronic Word Of Mouth)

Credits: econsultancy, blog.granite, poweredbysearch, digital-trip, tripadvisor, booking.com, tnooz, developers.facebook.com

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